Friday, September 30, 2011

Excerpts: A Strange Lover

“Excerpts” is a feature of Sky View which takes passages from old and dusty books because of some insight they offer or light they shed on current events.

The following excerpt is taken from the book, “My Changeless Friend” written by Francis P. LeBuffe, S.J. 1949 The title of the chapter is called: Strange Lover.

For whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges. (Hebrews 12:6)

“God will have some reward for all that. Perhaps he will ask you to suffer a bit more.” Thus wrote a priest to his friend- quite prophetically. A good work had been undertaken for another, quite unselfishly, with never the least possibility that any one but God might reward. Yet, scarcely had the deed been done, yes, even before the prophecy was penned, God did repay- and with his own coin; for he asked for a bit of suffering and that, too, of the hardest kind- misunderstanding and steel-like hardness from one who should have been the first to read all things aright.

“Perhaps he will ask you to suffer a bit more.” What a reward! What strange ways- to reward with pain! Yet, that is what God has done to many men and women down through the long centuries. He loved Abraham and rewarded his faith by testing it right up to the altar of Isaac’s sacrifice; he loved his Apostles, and gave them martyrdom; he loved the saintly men and women in each generation of the Church, and always is the story of suffering- physical, mental and spiritual –written large across their lives.

And what did he give his own Mother? Surely to her he would give the choicest of all rewards. And what was it? “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce”; and Mary, God’s Mother, is the Mother of Sorrows and the Queen of Martyrs.

Physical pain is hard to bear and wounds of the heart still harder. Hard they are even when we have sinned, though then we can scarcely expect special favors from God; but very, very hard when we have been really trying to keep God’s law and walk aright where many slip, all the while reaching a helping hand to some other stumbling wayfarer. Then is that cry of rebellion stands quivering on our lips: “Is this the reward?!”

Yes, strange though it be, it is often God’s way. Anyone can reward with pleasures; God alone dares to reward with pain. And he knows best. When I have lightened others burdens, he may place an extra cross on me; when I have brought calm to other minds, he may have my own grow anxious; when I have brought joy to other hearts, he may darken mine- just to show he loves me.

Jesus, my God, you are a strange Lover and strangely do you reward your lovers. I know well that you have asked sacrifice of those who were closest to you; that the penalty of being near you was always pain. Yet, when you act thus with me, I am very prone to wonder why and even to rebel. Yet, you know what is best for me and I must accept it all as a token of your love. Just give me strength to accept all pain from you gracefully.